Today I fixed my lawn mower. I did it by myself…all by myself! I It took me nearly two hours, but I figured out why the hunk of junk wasn’t running this time (it needed a new battery), and I fixed it. It took me nearly two hours to do what I know most mechanically sound folks could solve in half and hour or less, but time was not the issue today. Today was all about achieving success. I mowed the lawn with a smile on my face, not because the knee-high blades were being chopped to a height more favorable to the neighbors’ liking, but because I solved my own problem.
It occurred to me that the pride and confidence I felt in that moment is exactly what I wish for my students. I want them to be persistent problem solvers who use failure as a step up to success. Growing these problem solvers requires a tender balance of support and space. Supporting a child’s growth often means giving her the space to fail, and sometimes to fail miserably, offering the bare minimum of input needed for the child to figure things out. This process is not only empowering, but creates an authentic love of learning…and I need to be much better about giving students this space to grow. I need to build in the structure and opportunity that will foster these tenacious victories.
I don’t know exactly how to do this better…but I will. I think I’ll go ponder this while I wiggle my bare feet in freshly cut grass.